Gary Caldwell has been a ‘breath of fresh air’ for Chesterfield’s home-grown youngsters according to the man running the club’s academy.
The Scot’s desire to promote teenagers from youth football to the first team has been a major boost for academy manager Mark Smith and his staff.
His big hope is that the young men coming through off the club’s production line are afforded an opportunity to show what they can do in the professional ranks.
And in the 2016/17 season several of his players made their first team debuts.
Alterations to the loan system, including the scrapping of the emergency loan window, has opened up the door for young players developed by Football League clubs.
“The main thing for me is that kids need a chance and they’ve had a chance this season,” he said.
“There has been a change in the loan system and that has helped us.
“In the past when someone has got injured and we’ll go and take someone from Manchester City or Manchester United, take a look at a loan, but we’ve had to look closer to home.
“Once you give the kids a bit of a chance, some of them – not all of them – actually surprise you.”
One of the biggest feathers in the academy’s cap last season was the emergence of Joe Rowley, who was spotted by Caldwell in the reserves and handed seven first team appearances along with a pro contract.
Rowley, pictured, impressed supporters with a number of Man of the Match performances and also scored a match winner against Port Vale at the Proact.
Smith is delighted that Caldwell has taken the time to get to know the talent already in the building.
He said: “The manager is a breath of fresh air because he looks at the kids.
“In his way of looking at things, he doesn’t care how old they are, if they can play they’re in.
“It’s been really, really beneficial to the academy set-up.”